Wilders hit by two resignations as he unveils election manifesto


DUTCH RIGHT-WING leader Geert Wilders has accused two former Freedom Party (PVV) MPs of “stabbing him in the back” after they used the launch of his general election manifesto to announce their resignations from the party.

In the second high-profile PVV row in four months, Marcial Hernandez, a former soldier, and Wim Kortenoeven, who previously worked for the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, blamed Mr Wilders’s autocratic style for their departures.

Top of their list of grievances was their claim that Mr Wilders had decided in April to end the PVV’s support for the minority coalition government and pull out of austerity talks, sparking the election scheduled for September 12th, entirely without reference to party colleagues.

In a rare glimpse into the workings of the PVV, they also claimed that they and their fellow MPs had been given only half an hour to read a draft of the election manifesto two weeks before its launch – with no provision for them to have any input.

They said they both opposed, for instance, the proposal that the Netherlands cancel, on economic grounds, plans to purchase a Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, reduce its fleet of F-16s, and halve Dutch participation in peacekeeping missions.

They described Mr Wilders – who lives under 24-hour armed protection because of his anti-immigrant stance – as “isolated, out of touch and unapproachable”, available only to his second-in-command, Martin Bosma – the centre of his “politburo”, as Mr Kortenoeven characterised him.

“Everything revolves around Geert Wilders. No one else is taken into account and no one else may speak for the party,”said Mr Hernandez to the astonished media as the manifesto launch on Tuesday turned into a double-resignation press conference.

“Kim Jong-un could take lessons from Wilders’s media strategy. But the reality is that, despite his iron grip on the PVV message, he has no idea who Henk and Ingrid [Mr Wilders’s ‘typical Dutch couple’] actually are or what they think – except insofar as they suit his own interests.”

In April, one of Mr Wilders’s longest-serving MPs, former policeman Hero Brinkman, resigned over the PVV’s anti-immigrant website and the party’s “lack of democracy”.

Mr Brinkman’s new Independent Citizens’ Party recently amalgamated with Proud of the Netherlands, a party founded in 2008 by former Liberal minister Rita Verdonk.